My Favourite Picture of Ancient History I

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First things first… I am a Roman historian – Republican, Principate, Late Antiquity, even a little ‘Byzantine’ history. Anything Roman really.

So you might expected my favourite picture from Ancient History to be one of the numerous Roman items or edifices which have survived down to us – the busts of Hannibal Barca or the snarling Caracalla, the magnificent statue of Augustus Prima Porta, the architectural grandeur of the Coliseum or Hagia Sofia, one of my own Roman imperial coins or any number of battle maps, like the one of Cannae which hangs above my computer screen…


But is it is not a Roman imperial bust, Byzantine coin or one of the many magnificent buildings or edifices scattered around the Ancient World that is my favourite picture. Instead, it is something which is far older…


This is the rope seal on the door to the third of four innermost shrines in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings of ancient Egyptian Thebes, now Luxor.

Now, I know very little about Egyptian history, particularly anything pre-Greek or Roman, beyond some cliff notes but to think that this simple rope seal had been tied nearly 3,250 years before this photo was taken to keep people away from what it is probably still the most famous of all archaeological finds leaves me with a sense of wonder.

A sense of anticipation, knowing what was hidden behind this door and its seal…tut

A sense of how fortunate we are to have the contents of KV62, not just due to the amount of time it lay undisturbed but also due to the significant amount of tomb robbing that took place in the Valley of the Kings. At various points in Egyptian history, such tomb robbing became almost a political exercise. So even if Tutankhamun was a relatively minor Egyptian Pharaoh, for a rope seal to be in tact is extraordinary, especially when the outer rooms of his tomb seem to have been breached on at least two occasions in antiquity.

And perhaps most importantly, a sense and surely a promise that there is far more ancient historical information and material yet to be found…

Peter Crawford

One thought on “My Favourite Picture of Ancient History I

    Martin Boyle said:
    October 31, 2016 at 10:26 am

    This was pure reading pleasure, Peter Crawford. Great to see CANI flying the Classics flag in NI.

    Liked by 1 person

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